Everything Put Together
4 out of 5 stars SHADOWS MUST SEE MUST-SEE
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
everything put together This stunning, personal drama was made before Forster's acclaimed Monster's Ball, but had only a tiny release in the States last year, and even smaller distribution in the UK this summer. Who knows why--this film deserves to be seen! Set in suburban Southern California, the story centres on Angie (Mitchell) and her picture-perfect life with husband Russ (Louis) and a gaggle of lively friends, most of whom are, like Angie, heavily pregnant. But while Judith and Bill (Burns and Boone) get a healthy son, Angie and Russ' baby dies shortly after birth, leaving their circle of friends shocked. And running for cover. The awkwardness of real life tragedy just doesn't fit with their idyllic existence.

Shooting on washed-out digital video, Forster gets his camera up close and very personal, capturing the real-life rhythms of people who simply cannot handle complications in their lives. The direction is insinuating, invasive and frighteningly revealing, exposing our fears of "awkwardness" for what they really are: deep-rooted selfishness. And the script plays nicely with implications about what might happen next--what these people are capable of. The cast is perfect; Mitchell and Louis find just the right balance between fragility and strength as their characters cope both with the tragedy of death and the loss of their support base. And it's great to see sitcom stars like Mullally (Will & Grace) and Ruck (Spin City) do something meaty for a change. These so-called "friends" are absolutely horrible ... and yet everything they do is dreadfully familiar. Near the end, the film's subtle and telling understatement is almost undermined by a creepy sequence involving a storage facility. But the final scene more than makes up for it; like Monster's Ball, it relies on the face of the lead actress. And Mitchell is more than up to the challenge. This is a must-see movie, even if it means waiting for video.

cert 15tbc themes, language 23.May.02

dir Marc Forster
scr Catherine Lloyd Burns, Adam Forgash, Marc Forster
with Radha Mitchell, Justin Louis, Megan Mullally, Catherine Lloyd Burns, Alan Ruck, Matt Malloy, Michele Hicks, Jacqueline Heinze, Mark Boone Junior, Blake Rossi, Vince Vieluf, Courtney Watkins
release US 2.Nov.01; UK 14.Jun.02
00/US 1h29

Grief. Angie (Mitchell) struggles to cope with the death of her newborn son.

mitchell mullally ruck forster
R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
everything put together send your review to Shadows... "Every frame of this film exemplifies life in Southern California, where conformity reigns and interest (forget compassion) is seldom expressed for anyone too different from one's self, one's family, one's (successful) friends. Even parenthood can be a form of narcissism in such a milieu, because no real living culture exists beyond that of self, and self repeated in others like ubiquitous mirrors. In such circumstances, the ultimate status possession is one's child. Lacking or losing this possession, especially because of death (a form of failure) immediately puts one beyond the pale. Superstition is alive and well in Southern California, and probably any place where conformity is so valued. Marc Forster has made a true horror film, which he says was his intention, and an extraordinarily good one." --Kallie Wilbourn, New Mexico, USA 17.Nov.02
2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall